Porshyne – Interview – 2016

Porshyne have been laying low for a while now, however all is set to come together this spring as the pieces begin to fall into place. The five-piece atmospheric/rock group plan to release a new three track EP in the coming months which was recorded with the Black Peaks album producer, Mark Roberts. This EP was coined last autumn, recording went on for a couple of weeks out at Stronghold Studios in Newhaven and after hearing brief glimmers of early mixes, these showcase a raw, abrasive sound in comparison to the earlier Porshyne material. Tracks such as ‘Exit’ and ‘Hubris’ are set to bring down walls somewhere out in Brighton. I was fortunate enough to get down and have a quick chat with both the vocalist/guitarist, Fergal and lead guitarist Harry about what to expect.

So, how did you find recording this time round, using Mark Roberts as your producer?
Harry: He really makes the most of a very natural sound. He puts everyone at ease and makes the most of leaving mistakes and happy accidents in.

Fergal: He gives amazing value for money and he worked on a ‘we’ll do it until it’s done’ ethos, it allowed us to relax by not putting such a stringent time bracket on it. His demeanor and everything just put everyone at ease from the off.

How would you describe the sound on the EP then?
Fergal: I think any polish should really come from our playing rather than Mark having to add it and tweak it loads afterwords. It made me sing a lot better as I wasn’t constantly thinking things would be changed if it was a fraction above or below the note, Mark explained that he’d leave it in as it can add a great emotive tug on the track. It generated a good band attitude from the outside too as it was healthy going in with a mindset of not relying to heavily on tweaking and nudging notes. My voice was a bit knackered whilst doing it and he left it up to me as to whether to do it there and then, we decided to give it a shot in the end. I’m really happy with how it turned out in the end ‘cause the roughness adds an emotional edge to it rather than it being pristine throughout which can sound a little contrived at times.

Harry: We are really happy with how it sounds as it sounds closer to how we sound live. We feel collectively that it is a true piece to us. The influences are worn less on the sleeve – in the past it was easy to identify roots however now, it feels like it is our sound we have made. People have always reacted better to us live and we feel that this acts as testament to that.

So, we have heard ‘Hubris’ before from the previous Small Pond live recording, can you explain the choice with including this over the likes of ‘Warp’ that were previously recorded in a studio?
Fergal: It [Hubris] has basically been the most successful track in terms of how people responded to it, maybe because of the Small Pond recording. We were always under the impression that ‘Warp’ was a better track but again, it’s a completely different sound – it’s a lot more polished and maybe not as beefy as we would have liked. However, off the back of that Small Pond recording, people seemed to really like ‘Hubris’ so that swayed our mind slightly.

Harry: Mark was really happy with the choice as he felt ‘Hubris’ was a lot hookier as a song. It should hopefully add to what the Small Pond recording was which is just in a complete testament to how great Mark is. He wasn’t just recording it, it was proper production. We do a lot of arranging with a five-piece with three guitars and he did a great job of cleaning all that up, getting to the roots of each instrument. He has really good sonic ideas that just make ‘Hubris’ sound massive.

Do you have any future plans to record with Small Pond again?
Fergal: Because the EP isn’t going to be released for a while we’ve been working on a few new tracks – one in particular just needs the finishing touches. We tried to do something last spring at The Hope; we got it all set up in record time but then someone came up from downstairs and said it was too loud which was really unfortunate so we had to drop it. We are now thinking of doing a live video of this new untitled track whilst also doing a live video of a track off the EP. It’ll just give us more content and something to haul us over between now and the EP release.

Great! What song would you choose to record there off the EP?
Fergal: Well, we already have ‘Hubris’ so the other option is either ‘Exit’ or this track we are playing around with a title for – it’s currently going by ‘Nadir’ as a working title.

Are there any reasons for the single word titles?
Fergal: See that’s one of the things! We have thought about that for sure. To have on an EP ‘Porshyne’, ‘Hubris’, ‘Nadir’ etc – it can maybe be misconstrued as pretentious. In the past we had ‘Locked In’ which was a step aside. It’s almost for that point of view because these are little things that people generate really preconceived ideas about and it may come round to hurt us sometime – it may give off the wrong impression. Loads of prog bands can come across really pretentious but we want to simplify ourselves slightly to give us more appeal – a simple visual style, something more digestible.

How was the writing process this time round?
Fergal: Well, a lot of bands, they persevere with ideas or songs even if they aren’t sold on them, whereas we’ve always been like “nah, scrap it” [laughter] if we aren’t all into it – however, it did mean that we were working on stuff that everyone was into from the start. Don’t get me wrong though, writing songs in Porshyne is so hard, except ‘Warp’ which was miraculously easy for some reason.

Harry: Most bands though work on stuff, even if they are not that into it. It’s this that develops a song writing skill though, so, for the future, we have promised to persevere more.

Fergal: We began to realise that a lack of perseverance made it really hard as we never wrote that many tracks. None of us are really prolific songwriters and in the past when we came up with them, we never stuck with them too much when we should have because one or two of us may not have been too into it. This particular set of songs however are so representative of us right now, out of all of our songs, these are those that we are most excited about.

Are there any obvious singles on the EP?
Fergal: No, not as such. It wasn’t a conscious decision, we’d love to have a solid single. At the same time though, we want to write something we are happy with. It’s a constant battle between trying to write something with legs and something that suits you and your style. There’s no point for us setting out to write a single; if there is a track that goes on for pretty long and feels like it should, there’s no point fighting it. If you are all into it when you’re jamming it or whatever, you don’t want anything to stop that.

Harry: I always thought from the lot that ‘Hubris’ would make a good single…

Fergal: Yeah, maybe. The only issue is it’s quite long, it’s about eight minutes or something [laughter]. It is hooky though. Can you have an eight minute single? I’m not sure, ‘Sultans of Swing’ was seven minutes or so but it’s just whether a radio would take on something so long as a single.

Do you have plans to gig with this release then?
Harry: For sure! We have a gig coming up on February 9th at Green Door Store but as soon as we get a label to license the EP, we will certainly put together a tour.

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